Elizabeth Moon recently released Oath of Fealty, another book in Paksenarrion’s world. Paks is a minor character, but she’s there.
The book itself was disappointing. Decent, mind you, but I won’t yet put it high on reading lists. This might be fixed and the explanation of my disappointment will tell you how.
First, a digression about Paksenarrion – or more completely, the Deeds of Paksenarrion, the trilogy Elizabeth Moon wrote a few years ago. It sits on my short list of candidates for Best Fantasy Story. In simple, girl runs away to join mercenaries, learns to soldier, goes off adventuring, becomes a paladin, and does a few Great Deeds. Boy, that sounds boring. But she does it the hard way – there’s no Magic Sword for her, she’s not The Chosen One, and so on and so forth.
But one of the Really Good Things about the trilogy is that the first and second books pretty much wrapped up their own loose ends. Yes, there are intimations that more might be coming, but by the end of Sheepfarmer’s Daughter the hanging threads aren’t obvious.
And that’s the flaw with Oath of Fealty. We have four Major Issues introduced, and not one is brought to an apparent conclusion. The King is obviously pressured to be looking for a Bride and have heirs, but we don’t even get an introduction. (There is a broad hint that might be a red herring as to where she’ll be found, but of her not a hint.) There are some obvious issues with the man who takes what used to be the King’s land, both with what he’ll be doing up north and what he perceives as a Really Big Problem and possible invasion southward, but we’re left hanging on both. (Again, really broad hints, and some strong ones that he Cannot Have Both.) Even the thread nominally brought to a conclusion isn’t, as our Captain now Duke has these Devices of Great Import plus her land that (broad hints) probably won’t remain hers, and she stopped one assassination attempt of the Other King – even though that war is obviously ongoing.
And I’ve still not mentioned all the hanging threads.
Now as far as rolling the story out, it’s still good writing. I generally like most of Moon’s writing, and this meets that standard. And quite frankly once the whole series is finished I may enjoy this as well. But I do not like books that basically resolve NOTHING. As a consequence, I don’t like this book at this time. Wait till the next book or two come out, and hope that at least some of the threads reach a bit of conclusion.